Organophosphates findings available

By Ann Thompson, Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Policy advisor


Farmers who use diazinon are being asked to contribute data about how the organophosphate may, or may not, affect them.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its reassessment of the organophosphates and carbamates used for plant protection purposes and, having considered each of the active ingredients, has made proposals which can be commented on.

Diazinon, an organophosphate, has several important uses for farmers, which is why EPA is considering a 10-year phase out, rather than immediate withdrawal of the chemical, despite concerns for human health. The ultimate decision lies with the EPA decision-making committee, which will base its decision on science and submissions.

The proposed 10-year period gives scientists and manufacturers time to produce new, tested, alternative products and allows for the collection of information on the human health effects and ways to mitigate them. If sufficient new data is collected, the EPA may be approached to reconsider reassessing this agrichemical.

As a result, Federated Farmers wants all diazinon and other agrichemical users to start collecting data regarding any health effects they may experience when using any products containing the chemicals.

This could be by way of a daily diary during the months of use, plus a month either side to give a base-line and a phase-out line.

Signs to note are sweating and salivation, dizziness, fatigue, runny nose or eyes, nausea, intestinal discomfort, confusion, changes in heart rate, or anything unusual for the user.

Having the relevant blood tests would support all claims of lack of adverse effects. It would also give operators the comfort of knowing the precautions taken while mixing and spraying, which should be part of any operator's plan, work.

Testing for diazinon and other organophosphate effects is complicated. Two sets of blood tests, between three and 10 days apart, are required before spraying commences to establish the base levels of specific enzymes. Base-line setting tests must be done after 60 days free from exposure to diazinon. Then more are required monthly during the spraying period to monitor the levels.

Talk to your doctor for more complete information.

Annual testing, well after the spraying regime, is not sufficient as the levels need to be monitored during spraying.

Those using diazinon need to either hold an Approved Handler Certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone with one. Attention must be given to the instructions on the product's label, including using the appropriate personal protective equipment and conditions.

Having the information on the effects on users will help back the science that informs the industry.

To view the application documents go to www.epa.govt.nz and click on 'consultation'. If you wish to make a submission, these close on January 22, 2013.

- Hamilton News

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